A user role defines permissions for users to perform a group of tasks. In a default WordPress installation there are some predefined roles with a predefined set of permissions. These roles are Super Admin, Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor, and Subscriber. Each roles has a certain number of set tasks it is allowed to perform that are known as “capabilities”. There are numerous capabilities including “moderate_comments”, “publish_posts”, and “edit_users”. Although every role has a predefined set of capabilities, new capabilities can be added and removed from each role. User roles are very handy when it comes to multi-author WordPress sites.
As far as the default roles are concerned the Super Admin has the highest level of access while the subscriber has the least. The subscriber role only allows the user to read posts but not write anything. The Contributor can write posts but not publish them. The author role can write and publish their own posts while Editors can do the same for their own posts as well as others. The administrator has access to all administration features within a single site and the Super Admin has access to the entire network if it exists.
Entirely new roles can also be added and removed by using plugins. This allows the website administrator to manage who can publish and edit posts, create pages, manage plugins, moderate comments, manage others users, define links, manage themes, and more.
Restricting the capabilities of various roles allow the WordPress website administrators to have other users participate on their site. The user roles make it possible for WordPress websites to have multiple authors and thousands of registered users. This flexibility has transformed WordPress from a simple blog publishing platform to a community platform capable of powering membership sites, large online publications, and other types of sites that would typically require numerous users.